I am dreaming of a "normal" Christmas-traders group

Greek traders group dreams of "normal" Christmas

Greece's Christmas retail season looks to kick off this year "under normal conditions" after tens of thousands of businesses shut down in the sector due to the country's crisis, said the head of a leading traders group Monday.

The president of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), Vasilis Korkidis, said that news over the weekend that Greece has quickly agreed with lenders on the measures needed to unlock the next tranche of rescue funding has set an upbeat tone among retailers.

"We are hoping that it (the bailout agreement) will leave a positive mark on consumer traffic and turnover in the Greek market," he said in a statement.

Greece's retail sector is hurting from the country's eight year economic downturn that wiped out more than a fifth of the country's economy. Large stretches of retail strips, particularly in the suburbs of city centers, remain vacant while heavy taxes brought on by years of austerity is stifling investment.

The agreement reached on Saturday between Greece and its creditors - eurozone nations and the International Monetary Fund - paves the way for the release of a five billion euro payment to Athens and brings the country a step closer to existing bailout programs.

News of the sooner then expected deal with Greece's budget inspectors came up, however, on Monday against a weaker than anticipated reading of the Greek economy.

Greece's statistics office said the country's economy in the third quarter of the year grew by an annual pace of 1.3%. This figure suggests that Greece will miss its annual growth target of 1.6% for 2017.

But the third quarter growth data means that Greece's economy expanded for the third straight quarter in a row, something that has not happened in the country since 2006.